Older Americans Month: What You Need to Know About Dentures

by Jason 5/22/2014 8:00 AM

While dental care has become much more of a priority for almost everyone, many older people will end up needing artificial teeth—or dentures—as they age. 

Since May is National Older Americans Month, it’s a great time to review what you can expect if you find out you need dentures.

Dentures come in two forms: partial—for those who have some natural teeth remaining—and complete—used when a person has no natural teeth. Your dentist will determine which type is appropriate for you.

Denture placement can be immediate or conventional. “Conventional” means a person first has all of his or her natural teeth extracted. Once the mouth heals in 8-10 weeks, custom dentures are fitted and placed.

Many people elect immediate placement because they don’t have to go without teeth during the healing period. However, immediate dentures tend to need more fittings, because your gum and bone structure changes as it heals. They also tend not to fit as well over the long run. Ultimately, immediate dentures should be a temporary solution until conventional dentures can be made.

Living with Dentures

You’ll notice an adjustment period as you get used to functioning with your new dentures. The following tips may help you make the transition from natural teeth to dentures more smoothly:

  • Make sure your dentures fit. If they don’t feel right, or are slipping when you eat or speak, see your dentist for an adjustment.
  • Speak slowly in the beginning. The feeling won’t last forever, but getting used to speaking with your dentures in place could take a bit of time.
  • Eat soft foods until you get used to your new teeth. Foods like yogurt, applesauce and scrambled eggs are great for those first few weeks.
  • Use an adhesive. If you’ve had your fitting checked but still feel your dentures are slipping, a special denture adhesive may help.
  • Keep your mouth clean! Make sure you keep your dentures, gums and mouth clean to avoid infection. 

Finding out you need dentures isn’t the end of the world. In fact, having a full mouth of great-looking, functional teeth may actually improve your health and personal self-confidence. If you think you might need dentures, don’t hesitate to talk to your dentist. 

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